Formerly known as Sears Tower, Willis Tower has been a critical part of the world-renowned name that Chicago has made for itself on the architectural scene. Located on the 103rd floor in one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Willis Tower Skydeck offers incredible views from the highest point in the city of Chicago. From this vantage point you’ll see not only the beauty of the city and the lakefront, but on a clear day you can see up to 50 miles out—possibly seeing four other states!
At 1300+ feet in the air, guests not only discover mesmerizing views, but also encounter activities to learn from and enjoy. Interactive displays and exhibits showcase the history of Chicago as it moves forward into the future, with specific information about the building. Plus, you can be proud of your visit to Willis Tower as the building has been actively practicing “greening” through updates in recycling, lighting, shading, and other ways to reduce its environmental impact.
Not to Miss at the Willis Tower Skydeck
The Ledge. This glass balcony provides a spectacular outlook for a peek at Millennium Park, Wrigley Field, Navy Pier and much more. Located at 1,353 feet off the ground, the Ledge extends out more than 4 feet from the building, so feel like you’re walking on the clouds. Lines for the Ledge can be long (sometimes 30-40 minutes) and groups typically only get a minute or two to enjoy before having to move on for someone else. Be ready to snap your pics right away!
Skydeck Theater. Enjoy an interesting movie (9-minutes long) that gives background to Chicago’s architectural fame. Also, learn how the Willis Tower started as just a dream that eventually became reality.
Willis Tower Skydeck Amenities
Willis Tower and Skydeck have a limited number of services and amenities that include:
Willis Tower has a few options for restaurants on the lower level and second floor, including Starbucks, NYC Bagel, Marketplace Eats & Treats and Market Creations. Restaurants are open Monday through Friday.
- Willis Tower Skydeck is accessible to wheelchairs, scooters and strollers with ramps and elevators. The Ledge is also accessible.
- Complimentary wheelchairs are available for use on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Hearing assistance receivers are available for video presentations.
- Licensed guide dogs are permitted entrance with disabled guests.
What’s Nearby the Willis Tower Skydeck
Within just a few short minutes of walking, visitors can access these other incredible Chicago places:
- National Hellenic Museum
- Giordano’s Pizza
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Grant Park (with Buckingham Fountain)
- Crown Fountain (at Millennium Park)
- Union Station
Getting to the Willis Tower Skydeck
The entrance to Skydeck is located on Franklin Street, on the east side of the Willis Tower building. Located in downtown, the tower is quick to access by public transportation, bicycle or driving.
Parking can be a bit difficult so driving may not be ideal but, if you want to, then you can get to Willis Tower from Interstate 90/94 East by exiting at Jackson Boulevard and heading east to Wacker. Parking around the Willis Tower can be found at various nearby garages.
Take the Brown, Orange, Pink or Purple Lines to Quincy Station, just a short walk from the Franklin Street entrance. Buses #7, #126, #151 and #156 also stop near Jackson & Wacker.
Save the earth and burn some calories in one of America’s most bike-able cities! If you don’t have your own bike, you can grab one from a Divvy station near you and ride it to Willis Tower. Then deposit your Divvy at Franklin & Quincy or Franklin St and Jackson Blvd.
When to go to the Willis Tower Skydeck
Willis Tower Skydeck is open 365 days a year.
Hours of operation: Winter 10am-8pm daily; Spring/Summer/Autumn 9am-10pm daily
Getting a good view of the city of Chicago means going on a day that the weather is clear, of course. Weekday mornings are best for avoiding the crowds, which will mean waiting in fewer lines to get out on the Ledge.
Willis Tower Skydeck Insider Tips
- Check out the Skydeck website’s For Kids section before visiting to make your trip a fun, educational time.
- Avoiding busy times on the Skydeck is critical if you are hoping to get good photos. Try for weekday mornings for the smallest crowds.
- Check out the sunset time for the day you’re visiting, then head up about an hour before. You’ll get views of the city in the daylight, during sunset, and then after dark when the lights are twinkling.
- Everyone in Chicago still affectionately refers to it as the Sears tower.
- You can skip some of the of the line with a Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card